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LED vs. Metal Halide: Choosing the right light source for your hockey pitch

LED vs metal halide? Choosing the right light source for your hockey pitch can be a big decision. You’ll need to consider the impact on player performance, and spectator experience, as well as trying to reduce your environmental footprint.

At Inui, we know the impact that lighting can have on your hockey game. That's why we specialise in designing, manufacturing, and installing high-performance LED lighting solutions, creating a custom fit for your hockey pitch to ensure you have the best experience possible.

Deciding between LED and metal halide lighting can be difficult, which is why we will help you decide which lighting is best for you and your hockey pitch. We will explore in greater depth factors such as energy efficiency, life span, and colour rendering to help you make an informed decision on your lighting choices. 

Understanding the basics: what’s the difference between LED and metal halide?

It is important to understand the key differences between LED and metal halide. LED and metal halide lights are both powerful lighting options, but they differ in technology and key features. 

Metal halide bulbs use an arc discharge to create light, needing time to warm up and featuring shorter lifespans. LEDs, on the other hand, are solid-state semiconductors that emit light instantly and last significantly longer. While metal halide bulbs can be efficient, LEDs use less energy to produce the same amount of light, leading to long-term cost savings. 

Additionally, LEDs offer greater flexibility with colour temperature and dimming options, while metal halide has a more limited range. Overall, LEDs are becoming the preferred choice due to their energy efficiency, long life, and versatility.

Advantages of LED vs Metal Halide lighting: efficiency, longevity, and environmental impact

Let’s explore some key factors between LEDs and metal halides.


LEDs are highly energy efficient, converting most of the energy into light with a small amount of heat waste. Metal halides produce more heat waste compared to LEDs and are therefore less energy efficient. 


LEDs typically have a longer lifespan due to their lower energy consumption, lasting anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 hours. Whereas metal halides have a much shorter lifespan, lasting between 6,000 and 15,000 hours.

Turn on time

LEDs reach full brightness instantly, compared to metal halide, which requires a warm-up period of 15–30 minutes to reach full brightness.

Colour rendering

LEDs offer a wider range of CRI options, with high-CRI LEDs providing the most accurate colour rendering. Metal halide lamps, while decent, may not be suitable for applications requiring the most precise colour representation.


Due to the long lifespan of LEDs, minimal maintenance is required, whereas metal halide requires frequent maintenance due to its shorter lifespan.

Metal halide lighting has been a mainstay in high-intensity applications for decades, including hockey pitches. However, LED technology has emerged as a strong competitor to metal halide lighting.

In summary, LEDs are generally the more efficient and environmentally friendly choice to illuminate your hockey pitch due to their lower energy consumption and longer lifespan. However, metal halides may still be preferred in some situations where a very bright, daylight-like colour temperature is needed, and the upfront cost is a major concern.

How lighting impacts player visibility on the hockey pitch

Good lighting plays an important role in ensuring optimal player visibility on the hockey pitch. Proper illumination directly impacts reaction times, decision-making, and overall player performance. With superior lighting, players can see the ball, teammates, and opponents, even in fast-paced situations. This allows for:


  • Sharper visual perception: Clear visibility of the ball's trajectory and movement becomes crucial for accurate passing, dribbling, and goal-scoring.
  • Enhanced reaction times: Adequate lighting reduces eye strain and allows players to react more quickly to on-field developments, impacting interceptions, tackles, and defensive manoeuvres.
  • Improved decision-making: Superior illumination allows players to make informed decisions based on a clear understanding of the game's flow, positioning, and potential opportunities.
  • Reduced risk of injury: Proper lighting minimises shadows and glare, enabling players to anticipate movements and avoid collisions.

Investing in well-designed lighting systems creates a safe and effective playing environment, ultimately contributing to a more enjoyable and competitive game for both players and spectators. 

Creating a thrilling atmosphere with the right lighting

Beyond player performance, the lighting on a hockey pitch significantly impacts the spectator experience. The right lighting scheme can transform a game from a practical competition into a thrilling spectacle. Here's where the choice between LED and metal halide technology comes into play: 

  • Dynamic lighting effects: LED systems offer superior control and flexibility compared to metal halide lamps. This allows for the creation of dynamic lighting effects, like highlighting goal areas or adjusting light intensity during specific game moments. This can boost the excitement of the crowd and create an unforgettable viewing experience.
  • Colour accuracy and vibrancy: Modern LEDs excel in colour rendering, accurately showing the colours of team jerseys, the pitch surface, and the ball. This visual vibrancy enhances the overall aesthetic and keeps spectators engaged.
  • Reduced glare and distractions: Unlike metal halide lamps, LEDs produce minimal glare. This ensures spectators have a clear view of the entire pitch, reducing distractions and allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the action. 

By creating a captivating visual environment, LED lighting elevates the spectator experience, transforming hockey matches into events that are both thrilling to watch and unforgettable.

Custom solutions: tailoring INUI's LED lighting to your hockey pitch 

Based in Leicestershire, we design, manufacture, supply, and install LEDs for various applications, including hockey pitches. If you can’t find the right lighting for your needs online, we can create a bespoke solution at a competitive price with our full LED lighting design and installation service.

We also give you the option to have a full package with a 5-year warranty on our selected products, as well as the option for a 5-year return-to-site warranty. 

Long-term value: total cost of ownership for LED vs Metal Halide

While metal halide lighting offers a lower upfront cost per fixture compared to LEDs, it has significantly higher long-term costs due to increased maintenance costs and shorter lifespans. 

Therefore, the initial investment in LED lighting is outweighed by the long-term savings on energy, maintenance, and replacement costs. This makes LEDs a more cost-effective and sustainable solution for hockey pitch lighting.

Are you trying to find the perfect lighting solution for your hockey pitch?

Inui has designed and installed lighting for hockey pitches and other sports applications for over 44 years, so we understand all of the nuances of illuminating large outdoor spaces for optimal performance, safety, and energy efficiency. 

Contact our team of lighting experts for personalised advice and consultation to help you choose the right lighting for your hockey pitch.